The Fundamental Differences between Sadness and Depression

Differences Sadness Depression

Emotions are a part of our lives. It plays a significant role in determining our state of mind. We all feel sad when something is not going our way or when we experience mood swings.

Failing an exam, not getting a job, getting divorced or financial issues can all affect our mood and trigger sadness.  Sadness is an emotional state and is considered a normal response to any unfavorable or painful situations we may encounter in our daily lives. The intensity of sadness may vary depending on the life event we experience. For instance, when we lose a pet, the intensity of sadness we feel is greater than what we would feel if we lose a pen.

Depression is a mental health condition characterized by extreme sadness that interferes with the daily functioning of our lives. An individual with depression experiences multiple symptoms such as constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or suicidal thoughts. If left untreated, depression can last longer. One report found that an estimated 17.3 million (7.1%) adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. Sadness and depression often go hand in hand. Hence it is essential to understand the difference between sadness and depression. 

Read also The 7 Physical Signs of Extreme Sadness

5 Core Differences Between Sadness and Depression

1. Depression lasts longer than sadness. 

Sadness is a temporary emotion that fades with time. It can last for a few hours before it starts to fade or decrease. Even during the sad phase, there may be moments where you may feel okay. During this, you are able to enjoy the things you love like listening to music, read, or go out with your friends.

However, depression is a persistent feeling of sadness. The individual experiencing it finds it difficult to snap out of it. It lasts longer than sadness and you tend to experience other symptoms such as anxiety or suicidal thoughts. Depression tends to define your entire day and you feel like you can never feel better or happy again.

2. Sadness is an emotional reaction while Depression is an abnormal mental state

Emotions are a normal part of our lives. We all experience happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment almost every day. Sadness is a natural and healthy emotional response to any unfavourable situation. We feel sad when we have a fight with a parent or a friend. We feel sad when things don’t go the way we want. 

However, depression is a mental health condition that requires treatment and therapy. The major difference between sadness and depression is that depression occurs for no apparent reason. You tend to feel upset out of the blue and you can’t quite understand why. They experience a lack of concentration and have negative thoughts about their future. They feel helpless and out of control of their emotions

Loss of a loved one may trigger depression as well. However, it is difficult to distinguish between grief and depression since symptoms such as lack of sleep or loss of appetite are a part of the grieving process. People who are grieving tend to accept the love and support from family or friends but people with depression tend to isolate themselves and refuse help. 

In addition to this, depressed individuals experience feelings of guilt or shame. But sad or grieving individuals may not experience the same.

3. Sadness is an emotion while depression is a mental illness

Sadness is a basic human emotion. Sadness is an essential part of our journey through life because without feeling sadness you may never know what happiness feels like. It may even prove helpful in difficult life experiences such as break up or rejection.

Depression is a mental illness characterized by persistent sadness for no apparent reason. It may also significantly interfere with the individual’s day-to-day functioning. A person who is depressed must experience depressive symptoms for at least two weeks. Some of the depressive symptoms may include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Disruptive sleeping patterns and eating patterns
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling worthless
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
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